([Nearly] Wordless Wednesday) Dancing With the Canadians

February 2, 2011

Bebop

 

Bow to your corner

 

La gigue

 

Charleston

 

Twist

 

Smile! You're on Canada Camera.


(Even-More-Eloquent Thursday) Ah, So That’s What 16.4 cm Looks Like

January 13, 2011

How picturesque.

My little camera didn’t do yesterday’s storm justice.

No, this wasn’t a natural disaster (there’s enough of those elsewhere recently), it was simply a typical good dump of snow, about 6 inches, like Binky got out his way.

It was, though, enough to be exciting. Scary, even, for me. So while you look at the fun side of snow in this morning’s pictures, let me regale you with a tale of yesterday afternoon.

A flake or two meandered down about 14 00. By three, it was so thick that the accompanying sound effects in a movie would have been, “Ka-FLUMP! Ka-FLUMP!” E.g. went out to the main road with her camera, and watched a fourteen-wheeler crawling its way up the hill, a van with its four-way flashers on, and at the bottom of the hill, a police cruiser at the intersection. (You can find pix here.) Good thing we weren’t going anywhere.

Then we remembered her dad.

Never mind yesterday, Mum, come play!

Eddy had a routine doctor’s appointment at the hospital. While he can drive all right during the day, he prefers to be a passenger at night or during inclement weather, when visibility is reduced. E.g. called her parents’ place, and yes, Eddy had left before the storm started and was now in the thick of it. Would Rose like us to help her husband get home? Well… all right.

The plan was that E.g. would find her dad and drive him home in his car. Since there was no sense leaving a vehicle at the hospital, or E.g. stranded at her parents’ house, E.g. and I took the automatic so I could retrieve her from Rose and Eddy’s. And I got behind the wheel, for my first taste of slippery streets.

AFTER snowstorms, driving is fine; the greatest danger is heart attack from all the shoveling.

Windshield wipers on. Long strings of crawling traffic. The dictum to Always keep going, Never stop unless absolutely necessary. The terror of losing control as we went downhill (Saint John is very hilly — not tall ones, but numerous). The car jerking sideways no matter how delicately I applied the brakes or titched the steering wheel. Falling onto the shoulder and easing the vehicle back onto the asphalt. And E.g. beside me, talking me through it.

We made it to the hospital, and E.g. went in to find the doctor’s office. It was closed and dark. No dad. All we could do was return home, this time E.g. driving.

E.g. knows how to pace herself.

Another call to Rose and Eddy’s revealed that Daddy wasn’t home yet — a bit unsettling, since they live closer to the hospital than we do — but with another look out the picture window, Rose rejoiced to find her husband powering up their long, steep drive.

Whew.

Cai kept looking for something this morning, too...

 

...and finding it, and hiding it again, and finding it again...

Eddy is an excellent driver, and has always loved to drive. He told us later that afternoon that most of the trip home from the hospital, though slow, had been manageable. The hardest part had been the final right turn onto their street, in the thickest whiteout, when he really couldn’t see much of anything. After fifty-one years of turning right onto this road, however, he decided to use his body-memory to make the turn, and succeeded.

He called it “gut instinct”, but he may have been thinking of another source of Help that begins with “G”.

Yes, Mother, a fine narration. Now where's the lawn?


(Wordless Wednesday) Off Duty, or, “Show’s Over,” Said the Soldier, With a Disarming Smile

January 5, 2011


Light in the Darkness

December 23, 2010

Here in the North, the longest night has just passed.

Here in the North, the gardens are empty, the leaves fallen.

Here in the North, the blackness of night and the whiteness
of snow are the chief colours.

We welcome the fir tree, ever green.

We encircle it with lights, to call forth the growing light.

We trim it with talismans, memories of past places,
memorials to the dead.

It is sacred.

May your holidays be blessed. We’ll see you next week.


Nature Soft in Tooth and Claw

December 18, 2010

A suspiciously tidy kitchen cupboard

My recent post about Josephine the compost rat  having generated a goodly number of comments from you, dear readers, I’ve decided to write a double postscript to it.

Postscript I.

First, Colleen Dick mentioned “pantry moths”, a good, descriptive, polite-company name for them. While I don’t know their proper name, I think Seabrooke would classify them as “micromoths” (she would know, being half the team preparing the upcoming Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America).

Pantry moths are itty-bitty, skinny brown things. It takes two of them to make a family, and one family to make an invasion. The white, pink-tinged caterpillars enjoy cornmeal or other grains, dried beans, or even dried fruits. They can chew through plastic bags. They spin their winsome little cocoons in any modest cranny. Both larvae and adult are slow, stupid, soft, and squishable. Ugh.

So the other day, E.g. and I cleaned the food cupboards, discarding wormy grains, reducing cocoon hideouts, and gathering like objects — teas, pastas, dried fruit, legumes — into sealable containers.

And guess which lucky rat is benefiting from the composted chickpeas, bulgur, and dates?

More tidiness! What do you make of it, Inspector?

Postscript II.

Second, Alyson asked whether corgis don’t have the ratter instinct. I don’t know about Pembroke Welsh Corgis (the “Queen’s Dog”), but yes, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi was originally bred as an all-purpose farmhand, whose duties included rat-catching.

It was Fergus and Cai, in fact, who originally alerted me to Josephine’s presence this Fall. Fergus, especially, kept hanging around the compost bin, circling three sides of it, or snuffling the narrow space between bin and lean-to.

One day, as I was shoveling out some finished compost through a bottom hatch, I heard a squeak, a rustle of dry leaves, and a soft clatter where Josephine had fled through a gap in the lean-to wall. Now I knew for sure: a) she’s moved in, and b) she’s safe from the Cardis.

A few weeks after the bustle-and-squeak incident, I noticed the furchildren hesitating near the raised veggie patch beds. As I walked towards them, Fergus picked up something in his mouth to show me. “No no, drop it!” I called, and he laid it down again: a dead rat.

I picked the thing up in a gloved palm to dispose of it, and was surprised to find it still gasping for breath. I have since read in Rattie’s blog that rats don’t tend to live long, so maybe the poor thing was dying when Cai and Fergus found it. At any rate, I carried it just beyond our back fence, and sprinkled a few dry leaves over it for a privacy screen.

What fascinates me, Al, is that for all Fergus’s interest in the compost bin, and Cai’s delight in shaking the shoot out of rubber throw-toys, neither had the instinct  — the heart? — to dispatch that poor old rat.

Look at that topline! Cai trees an oatmeal stout mash tun.


(Wordless Wednesday) Airmail

December 15, 2010


Care and Feeding of Your Compost Rat

December 13, 2010

Frankly, I was a little worried last Winter.

From our dining room window, I could watch a rat going about its business some 15 feet away. It had made a home for itself below the mixed-seed bird feeder, its burrow entrance jutting through the snow.

Fortunately, Barefootheart (who’s having a birthday today!!) allayed my fears. She predicted that the rat would move along come Spring, and wouldn’t try to enter our house. And, when Spring came, Barefootheart’s prediction was confirmed.

Barefootheart also referred to the rat as a “she”.

So this October, when Somebody moved into our fancy plastic compost bin, I decided to name her “Josephine”. The dogs know she’s there, but she’s safe from them. She’s also a whole lot further from our house than last year’s Winter Rat, who gave no trouble. Why not let her be, then?

Frost beside a hole -- I'm guessing this is Josephine's bedroom.

And guess what? Robbie Burns’s philosophy, “I’ll get a blessin’ with the lave”, is proving true, too.

In Composting 201, we all learned that the transformation of banana peels into garden soil is facilitated by:

– air circulation;

– a little extra soil;

– stirring;

– chopping of vegetable matter;

– warmth;

– moisture;

– nitrogen.

Josephine provides all this. She has formed tunnels, excavated underneath the bin, and mounded up the pile in the back left corner, to make a comfortable home. She eats the kitchen scraps that appeal to her, and buries the rest. Her wee body, the length of your hand and the girth of your fist, adds a little warmth to the otherwise stone-cold wintertime bin, and her breath adds moisture. And the nitrogen? Well…some of us refer to it more commonly as “piddle”.

When Spring comes, Josephine will move to the blackberry patch on the City land, and I will have the loveliest barrowloads of garden food.

These happy thoughts have led to increased consideration of the kitchen compost bucket’s contents. Will this cabbage core give her gas? Will she enjoy this nice squash rind? Should I “accidentally” add this bit of pork chop fat?

One day recently, I did contribute a nonfood item. I was trimming ends on some all-cotton dishcloths, and…

Clementine rinds, chamomile flowers, and cotton bedding bits.

Josephine has squirreled away every last thread.